As the global coronavirus pandemic reaches the final months of 2020, the nature of work has changed fundamentally for the foreseeable future—and in some sectors, perhaps permanently.
However, it appears that many people are actually optimistic about the changing nature of the workplace amid COVID-19, according to a survey released in July by the nonprofit Catalyst. Furthermore, the survey found that the pandemic-induced changes will actually accelerate gender equity in the workplace once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
Catalyst, alongside the research firm Edelman Intelligence, surveyed 1,100 full-time adult workers in early June of 2020 via an online survey. Among the respondents were 250 business leaders and 850 employees of large, multinational companies. The group of respondents was representative of the American working population in terms of age, gender, region, and race.
“The survey reveals that people are optimistic about progress for gender equity in the workplace during COVID-19—but are skeptical about the commitment of companies to address this issue at an institutional level,” the organization said. “Further, this survey exposes differences in perception between business leaders and employees on work-life effectiveness and career prospects during and after COVID-19.”
Across gender and race, 50% of workers believe their economic prospects will improve by 2025. Only 16% expect to be worse off in the next 5 years. Additionally, 7 out of 10 people surveyed believe that gender equity will improve in the wake of COVID-19.
However, most workers are skeptical about how committed their employers are to improving inclusion in this time of remote work. Only 41% of those surveyed thought their company was fully committed to enhancing gender equity and other inclusion concerns.
Unsurprisingly, executives and other business leaders were more likely than employees to believe that the pandemic is causing companies to be more inclusive to gender equity.
During the COVID-19 crisis, stress is understandably high. Almost half of respondents of all genders, 45%, said they were stressed about their work-life balance since the pandemic started. For female business leaders, this number balloons to 62%, compared to 56% of their male business leader counterparts.
While there is a lot of optimism about the post-pandemic workplace, most workers—roughly 60%—believe their prospects for promotion have decreased due to the pandemic. This fear is more prevalent among female employees. Most business leaders—over 70%—actually think their promotion prospects have improved, however.
As work, home, and school arenas have collided during the pandemic, it appears that traditional gender dynamics have been reinforced. The survey found that only 1 in 3 men said they have taken on more chores around the house since the pandemic began. Strikingly, only 13% of women said that their male partners have taken on more household chores.
While the survey results regarding post-pandemic optimism seem like a bright spot, it also appears that many issues of the pre-coronavirus time have continued into the present day.